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Mobile signal boost for rural Norfolk as part of Vodafone scheme

Monday, September 21st 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Three rural Norfolk communities are to get reliable 3G for the first time as part of a Vodafone scheme.

Vodafone’s Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) programme is using ‘femtocell’ technology to bring mobile access to 100 rural communities affected by mobile ‘not-spots’.

The company announced that the latest areas to get 3G coverage as part of the scheme are High Kelling, Hillington and Upper Sheringham.

Cable.co.uk has previously reported that residents in Norfolk were being let down by poor mobile coverage.

Vodafone said many areas of the county have suffered from unreliable mobile coverage, slow network speeds and lack of decent fixed broadband needed to link together masts.

It said the geography of rural and remote locations and difficulties in gaining planning permission could lead to communities missing out on network coverage.

Earlier this year, Vodafone UK’s head of networks Petek Ergul said out-of-date planning laws were hindering efforts to improve coverage and there needed to be a “complete change of mindset” in the way efforts to improve infrastructure are dealt with to allow network improvements to be rolled out faster.

The ROSS programme uses ‘femtocell’ technology to provide an alternative solution to bring 3G mobile access in locations where it may not be possible for networks to provide coverage through traditional means.

Jorge Fernandes, Vodafone UK chief technology officer, said: “Mobile connectivity is an essential service for rural areas, however, getting traditional coverage to these areas can be deeply frustrating when faced with areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or a lack of required broadband.

'Great example'

“However, we’re determined not to be beaten on rural coverage and we know ROSS works.

“This will make such a difference – not only for the people who work and live in [these areas], but the hundreds of visitors they receive each year.”

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, said: “This is an excellent scheme providing access to 3G voice and internet services to places in North Norfolk that have struggled with little or no connectivity for years.

“This is great news for local people, local businesses and the large number of tourists who visit the area.”

Henry Bellingham, MP for North West Norfolk, added: “Digital connectivity is really important to people across my constituency and I’m delighted that Hillington has joined other communities across the UK in getting access to mobile internet services through Vodafone’s Rural Open Sure Signal programme.

“The project is a great example of local people working together with business to bring the benefits of digital connectivity to their community.”

As well as using ROSS to plug rural “not-spots”, Vodafone is spending around £2bn on its network and services across the country over 2014 and 2015.

This includes the provision of High Definition voice technology on its 3G network and the extension of its 4G coverage to 642 cities and towns and thousands of smaller communities across the UK.

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